Motorstorm is the best selling Playstation 3 release title and was loved by many people who enjoyed the rough and tumble off-road action, it wasn’t perfect and it lacked an important feature, but it was fun. Motorstorm Pacifc Rift was set to take the winning formula that was in the original and plug the holes, clean the exterior and glue on a few new shiny trinkets, for the most part it has worked.
Pacific Rift (PR) is set on a luscious tropical Hawaiian island that features a juxtaposition of Fire and Water, the plant life and various environments mean that there is a lot more variety packed into this game that what you saw in the Motorstorm. The first thing that I noticed was the presence of the colour green, something that for the most part was absent in the desert bound original. There are lush tropical plants that scatter most of the tracks; some of these are even interactive. Certain plants such as Sugar Canes and large bushes will actually impede the progress of smaller vehicles; the added dynamic does a nice job in some tracks of equalizing the vehicles various advantages. Other than the added gameplay elements they also add in a spectacular manner to the visual beauty, and this is one area that really stands out in PR.
Large jumps (as is the fashion in Motorstorm) are a great way to take advantage of spectacular vistas, with the backdrop of the active volcanic island and the ocean there is plenty to see in the scenery department. The foliage of the plants is nicely detailed but one thing that lets the game down is the low quality textures on the ground. While moving at speed there isn’t really an issue with the ground textures, the speed blur and the effect of seeing the ground moving at pace minimizes its blurred appearance, while recovering from a crash or at the start line however it is painfully obvious. The cars are cleanly detailed with each class having multiple iterations, the monster truck has a rather fitting skin that looks like a dinosaur, the bikes on the other hand all look the same unless you get close.
The smaller vehicles seemed sluggish and unresponsive at first, I had been playing Pure for the last few weeks and PR’s bikes seem to move like there was no control over the back end. Motorstorm is not a worse game because of this difference; it just gives an alternate racing experience. The lines you take are wider and more sweeping than in Pure and the speeds are faster as well, you can fall off your bike if you try to take a corner too fast so there is still a , after a few hours of racing it became second nature again.
The additions of fire and water are two of the ways that Evolution have progressed the gameplay to become more dynamic and interactive. Water cools your boost meter but slows down your momentum in smaller vehicles; deep water can bring to a stand still or stop you completely. Waterfalls and squirting irrigation pipes will also have the same cooling effect. Proximity to lava on the other hand increases temperature when using boost and can cause you to catch fire which will remain ignited for a time after leaving the lava areas. Something else that will keep the multiplayer game very interesting and intensely competitive is the combat abilities, throwing punches on bikes and side boost attacks in the cars and trucks. The A.I. in the game didn’t seem too interested in using these while I spammed them; the R1/L1 buttons are used so the best position for me was to be on the right hand side of my opponents.
Other than the standard circuit race there are a few new game modes. Elimination sees the person in last place explode at certain intervals; a solo checkpoint race as well as a time trail race are another two game types available in single play. The added variety of these race types along with the unlockables such as concept art and video footage of the landscapes/environments that provided the inspiration for the game mean that there is a good amount of replayability that was lacking from the first game. Carried over from the original is the comprehensive online mode, it was a blast then and it will be great now. Look forward to some ButtonMasher race nights. Also for those completionists there are a lot of trophies that encourage reckless behaviour.
Split-screen has also been added but this is not the godsend that I thought it would be for local action. The two player split sees a horizontal division and it works quite well, there is a noticeable reduction in detail and while the smaller viewing area is mildly inhibiting it doesn’t prevent the fun from happening. Four person (or three person for that matter) is a less desirable situation. The first thing that I noticed was that the viewing area was so small (playing on a 50” Plasma) that it was nearly impossible to tell what was happening and where I was supposed to go, I didn’t perform too poorly as I had a basic grasp of the track we were racing, but it was not pleasant. The second thing that stuck out was the enormous amount of pop in, the draw distance at times was a mater of metres in front of the player. The addition of splitscreen shows that Evolution heard the complaints of gamers around the world; it is a less than impressive offering when playing with more than two people and it put me off trying it in the future.
Motorstorm Pacific Rift is almost the perfect sequel; it takes what made the first game great and expands on it. The new environmental features as well as the stunning locals combined with the variety of vehicles and race modes including online and offline make it a very good value package for your money. I’d buy it.